Floating Reed Islands on Lake Titicaca
Puno Travel Blog› entry 58 of 92 › view all entries
On our way back from the homestay we stopped at the floating reed islands, which were for me the highlight of the whole time spent on and around Lake Titicaca.
These are amazing structures which the local islands have been creating and living on for generations over hundreds and hundreds of years. They were initially created as a way of escaping invading foces - a great way of saying ´fine have our land but I´m going to build myself an island and float over here where you can´t get me!´
On the first island we were shown how they were constructed with reeds harvested from the masses growing all around the islands in this part of the lake. The reeds are laid on top of old reeds that have decomposed into almost solid earth, and take about 7 years to make I think (from memory).
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the islands is the islanders abilty to deal with clonflict - if there is a problem with a neighbouring island they simply loosen the anchoring ropes and float further away. And most amazingly, if there is a conflict between people on the island they simply get the saw out and chop the whole thing in half!! In this way about 2 new islands on average are created each year! On the second island I was interested in buying some of the local weavings and started bargaining with 2 different traders.
The islands were amazingly atmospheric places, with a great sense of freedom that came form their impermanence and abilty to be easily moved if required. They were so different from any other type of community I´ve seen, almost totally at one with nature and dependent on their surroundings to survive. They even had solar panels to catch the light and gain enough electricity to power a small TV. I have to admit that I was tempted to move there!